You go down early, the sun barely lifting its head above the cove. It’s quiet, tranquil, just the way you like; always and only before Mathieu awakes. Timber cantilevered over giant boulders, barnacled driftwood, shale, and rock. You take the short trail, manoeuvring down onto the long stretch of beach. Soft sand nestling between your toes, textured with bits of crushed mussel, periwinkle, clam and hermit crab shells. Shards of lavender, pink, green, and cobalt blue sea glass warming up the palette. The water, glassy, sleek and silken.

 

You do not have much time. Soon it will begin all over again. The murmuring, the crying, the outbursts, bathing him, dressing him, feeding him, exercises to strengthen his gait, improve his balance, re-wire the brain they say…soon he’ll speak. And you hold it all in. And again. They tell you he’s not coming back. Not like how he was. But you don’t give up. You never do.

 

Instead, you slip the light fantastic wiping it all from your mind’s eye and pierce the glassy film like quicksilver. A cool, briny, membrane closes around you. Your skin firm and rubbery. Your body sleek, shaped like a submarine, undulates just below the surface. It is designed for speed and you head for open waters. Steering with your dorsal fin, it stabilizes your trajectory. Powerful muscles run along your backbone and sides, thrusting your tail up and down, pushing you farther and deeper into the shadow side.

 

And later when he wakes, you drizzle the briny liquid from a top his head, watching it cascade down over his eyes, cheeks, and lips…singing so very softly, watching, as the water heals him too.

 

 

278 words

5 Comments

  1. Dominique Christina

    Beautiful, lyrical writing Karen. There is an urgency in it. It feels intimate and pressing. Poetic and laced with longing. I love that. It floats and gurgles and asks the reader to lean forward. Thank you for it. I hope you will keep going.

  2. Chelsea Stickle

    Wow, Karen. This is so beautiful and touching. The whole thing feels like that part of the morning before obligations capture us. Magical and free. She becomes a shark, right? I love the transformation. How simple it is. How she takes what she gains and brings it back for healing. The whole thing is hushed and sacred.

  3. Nancy Stohlman

    Karen!
    The writing is so rich and visceral here: Timber cantilevered over giant boulders, barnacled driftwood, shale, and rock. You take the short trail, manoeuvring down onto the long stretch of beach. Soft sand nestling between your toes, textured with bits of crushed mussel, periwinkle, clam and hermit crab shells. Shards of lavender, pink, green, and cobalt blue sea glass warming up the palette. The water, glassy, sleek and silken.

    And then that second paragraph–the contrast in both form and content–so beautiful and then so urgent. This is a stolen moment–which then recasts everything that came before and everything that came after in a glorious contrast.

    Love! xo

  4. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Karen, I love this writing–-love the feel of the stones, the shells, the crabs, the real sense of climbing over rocks to what initially feels like tidal zones along a rocky coast. The contrast between paragraph one and the second paragraph draws me deeper into the story. The transformation of the protagonist into a sea creature (dorsal fin– whale, dolphin) feels like it touches Celtic legends like that of the sulkies. I love how you use the healing power of water as a central theme. Thank you for this.

  5. Rhyannon Brightwater

    Karen, I love the poetic descriptive language. I can see where you are, I can feel what you feel and then thrilled when the moment of transformation comes. A dolphin I assumed. And water as a symbol of life and healing feels so right…we came from the sea and it flows through our blood. I would imagine many of the hospice caregivers I know would relate to these feelings of respite and obligation and find joy in both of those things.

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